There is nothing better than having your car looking at its best. The wheels and tyres are an integral part of that. In this article, we will explore why you should maintain your wheels and tyres, and how to clean them safely and efficiently.
Why Is Wheel & Tyre Cleaning Important?
From aesthetic point of view, the answer to this question is simple, because it makes them look great! There is something so satisfying about standing back and admiring a set of freshly detailed wheels.
From a practical perspective, the wheels and tyres on your car must deal with more heat and contamination than any other part of the vehicle. High temperatures, brake dust, tar and general road grime are all factors to consider and can cause longer term damage if they’re not addressed properly. For tyres, again this is for practical and visual purposes. A freshly cleaned tyre accepts a tyre dressing better, which improves the durability and provides longer lasting UV protection.
Tools & Supplies
Having the right tools for the job will make the cleaning process faster, easier, safer and more enjoyable. Wheels come in a multitude of different designs, so select from the tools below which best suit your needs.
- Wash Bucket and Water source: Either a garden hose, or preferably a pressure washer and a wash bucket.
- Wheel Barrel Brushes: Ideal for wheels with wider clearances, these are safe for all finishes. Braun Original Woolies and Maxshine Microfiber Wheel Brush 3-Piece Kit are great options.
- Wheel Barrel Brush (Narrow): For cleaning barrels with restricted clearance, the bristles of this brush allow access to narrow spaces you can use Maxshine Wheel Cleaning Brush.
- Boars Hair Brush: For cleaning the lug nuts, brake callipers and wheel face. Detail Factory Boar's Hair is a great option.
- Wheel Wash Mitt: Cyclone Ultra Wheel Mitt and Maxshine Microfiber Finger Wheel and Rims Wash Mitt for cleaning the wheel face, back of the spokes and fender lips.
- Wheel & Body Brush: For wheel faces and wheel arches you can use Maxshine Wheel Brush and Maxshine Medium-Duty Wheel Brush.
- Tyre Scrub Brush: For cleaning the tyres Detail Factory Tyre Cleaning Brush
- Microfiber Towels: The Rag Company Gauntlet can be used for drying or touching up after the wash
- Wheel & Tyre Cleaner: Non-acid for regular/weekly use.P&S BrakeBuster & Marolex Axel 3000 Pressure Foamer Bundle
- Wheel Cleaner: Iron removal type for neglected wheels or for periodic decontamination.Koch Chemie Magic Wheel Cleaner
- Dedicated Tyre Cleaner: For excessively dirty tyres, this product can do some heavy lifting if required. Great for Professional use as well. P&S Undressed
- Tyre Dressing: Obsessed Garage Tire Dressing gives you a long-lasting satin-look.
- Tyre Dressing Applicators: MaxShine Hydro-Tech Tyre Gel Applicator and Maxshine Curved Grip Brush
How to Clean Wheels & Tyres – The Process
- Fill up your bucket with water, adding some car shampoo. Place your brushes and tools into the bucket.
- Rinse the wheel, wheel arch and tyre with water using your pressure washer or garden hose. Be thorough here.
- Spray a tyre cleaner onto the tyre sidewall and wheel arch. Scrub the sidewall with a tyre brush, scrub the wheel arch liner.
- Spray your chosen wheel cleaner onto the wheel, making sure to get even coverage of the wheel face and barrel. Start agitating with your brushes to clean the wheel face, barrel, and lug nut sockets, rinsing out your brushes and tools in the bucket as needed.
- Thoroughly rinse the wheel, wheel arch and tyre with water.
- (Optional) Once clean, apply a spray and rinse type sealant such as Gyeon Wet Coat. This will make future cleaning easier or add to an existing wheel ceramic coating.
- After the wash process, use a dedicated car drying blower, leaf blower or compressed air to remove any standing water from the wheel, wheel arch and tyre. Follow up with a towel if needed.
- Apply your chosen tyre dressing using a brush or foam applicator pad. For a glossier appearance, apply the product more generously. For a matte finish, apply the dressing and allow it cure for 20 minutes, then follow with a light wipe down using a towel to level down the finish.
Wheel & Tyre Protection
This is a subject best left for a separate article but is worth briefly mentioning here. For tyres, regular cleaning and applications of a dressing will keep the rubber protected from harsh UV rays and ultimately extend their life. For wheels, these days there are several different options and products to choose from.
The ultimate form of wheel protection would be to use a wheel-specific ceramic coating that has been designed to withstand higher temperatures. Products such GTECHNIQ C5 Wheel Armour Coating, DIAMOND WHEELS KIT or Gyeon Q2 Rim are solid options. These products do need a more methodical application, often with the wheels removed to gain full access to the barrels. However, your effort is rewarded with a superior level of protection, longevity, and ease of cleaning in the future.
The use of Gyeon Q2M Wetcoat is a simple, time efficient way of providing protection to your wheels. This product is activated and distributed by water, which means you can coat the entire wheel without having to remove it from the vehicle. Durability is shorter, but application is quick and easy. It can also be used as a topper to a ceramic coating. You should apply Gyeon Q2M Wetcoat every second or third wash to maintain a healthy layer of protection and improve cleaning ability.
Tips, Tricks and What to Avoid
- Protect your wheels with a sealant or ceramic coating. Not only does it make them look better, but it also makes future cleaning effortless.
- Avoid using abrasive scrub brushes and magic erasers, especially on gloss black wheels.
- Always apply wheel cleaning chemicals to a cool surface to prevent potential damage. Be sure to also avoid direct sunlight.
- For tyres, you may need to repeat the cleaning process a few times to get a fully clean surface. This is normal for neglected tyres, less so for well-maintained tyres.
- If possible, using a pressure washer will improve your efficiency. It’s fun too!
- Avoid acidic wheels cleaners. For the most part, these are not necessary and best left to professional usage.
- Rinse out your bucket and tools after each session. This will remove contaminants, increase the longevity of the tools, and ensure they are ready to go next time you clean your wheels.
Frequently Asked Quetions
How often clean my wheels and tyres?
You should clean your wheels and types as often as you like or need. The key factor is to do it regularly to avoid a build up of brake dust and other contaminants.
What wheel cleaner should I use?
A product like P&S Brake Buster is great for weekly regular use but can also do some heavy lifting if required. On wheels with a heavy level of brake dust, something like Koch Chemie Magic Wheel Cleaner or Sonax XTREME are better for dealing with that level of contamination.
Do I need a specific tyre cleaning chemical?
Not always. A product like P&S Brake Buster is a combined wheel and tyre cleaner, making it a versatile choice for maintenance cleaning. Iron remover type cleaners such as like Koch Chemie Magic Wheel Cleaner are not effective tyre cleaners, so you will need a separate product. For neglected tyres, something like P&S Undressed or Gyeon Tire Cleaner will deliver a more targeted response and the best results.
What brushes and tools should I choose?
The brushes and tools you should use will come down to the design of your wheels. Some wheels have minimal clearance due to the design of the spokes or braking system, necessitating brushes that will fit into those gaps. Some wheels have a more open design, allowing you more freedom of tool choice.
Is dressing the tyres necessary?
Not only does it protect the rubber from UV damage, but a dressed tyre is like the icing on the cake. The key to awesome looking wheels and tyres is regular maintenance. With a sound process and great products, keeping your wheels and tyres in top condition is simple, enjoyable, and rewarding.
Good luck and happy detailing!